The U.S. surgeon general issued an advisory this week urging Americans to carry naloxone, a drug used to prevent death in the case of an opioid overdose.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says anyone who currently or previously used opioids and their loved ones should have the life-saving narcotic-blocker on hand.
In San Luis Obispo County, 75 overdose reversals were recorded in the last six months.
"So you would just tilt the person’s chin back, put it in their nose and squirt the medication up," explained Katie Grainger, the Naloxone Action Team coordinator for the county. "I hope naloxone will be in the hands of every individual who could possibly find themselves in a position to save a life."
San Luis Obispo County drug and alcohol officials don’t want the stigma of drugs to get in the way of using naloxone. Pharmacists say it’s purely an opioid reversal medication.
"It will temporarily kick off opioids," Grainger said. "In the event of an opiate overdose what is happening is the central nervous system is shutting down their respiratory system is failing and this can help reverse that process and allow the victim to breathe again normally, so basically if you don’t have opioids in your system, this is going to give you a wet nose."
Some local pharmacies are now carrying the medication:
- Santa Maria Walgreens
- Nipomo CVS off Tefft St.
- Arroyo Grande CVS off Grand Avenue
- San Luis Obispo CVS off Marsh St. and the CVS inside Target
- Paso Robles CVS off Niblick
- Cayucos Pharmacy
- Atascadero En Soleil Pharmacy
"If they have Medi-Cal, it’s free. My insurance, my copay was $20. Some people pay $5," Grainger said. "With no insurance, it is rather cost prohibitive. It’s over $100 at most pharmacies."
"I totally would be willing to carry it," said Whitney Stewart, Atascadero resident. "My brother is an addict and he’s overdosed multiple times. He was just on life support a couple of weeks ago, so if I was there and could have helped him, I would."
How do you know when to administer it?
"The main sign is that they are just unresponsive," Grainger said. "If someone is just in a heavy nod off, you don’t want to give them Narcan because that will send them into a severe withdrawal. You don’t want to give it to them unless they are in an emergency setting where they aren’t getting oxygen."
To get naloxone without paying, the county offers a local ‘Syringe Exchange and Overdose Program’ every Wednesday. You can go to the county health building and can get it for free. They are open Wednesdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.
"Every second counts when it’s an issue of overdose because someone’s life could potentially be lost," Grainger said.